The Iranian delegation at Vienna nuclear talks on November 29, 2021

The Iranian delegation at Vienna nuclear talks on November 29.

EU Envoy Signals Urgency As Day One Of Iran Nuclear Talks Ends


European Union represnetative at Iran nuclear talks, Enrique Mora, spoke Monday of “weeks not months” to agree over reviving the 2015 agreement, the JCPOA.

Russia’s top negotiator, Mikhail Ulyanov said negotiators would intensify the “drafting process” of an agreement.

Mora chairs formal meetings in Vienna, which Monday began an eight round in attempts to restore the 2015 agreement, the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action). Mora also coordinates with the United States, which takes part in Vienna indirectly after leaving the JCPOA in 2018.

Mora told a news conference the process was focused on “both tracks in parallel,” referring to the central challenge dogging the talks since they began last April – that of agreeing which US sanctions contravene the JCPOA and how Iran’s nuclear program should be brought back within JCPOA limits.

"We are working on both tracks in parallel,” Mora said. “We are not working on one side and forgetting or neglecting the other. On the contrary, both tracks are mutually reinforcing.”

Mora expressed optimism that "if we work hard in the days and weeks ahead, we should have a positive result.” But he added: “I will not speculate on target dates to reach agreement, [but] we are talking about weeks not months to reach an agreement.”

‘Business-like discussions’

After a formal meeting of the JCPOA Joint Commission Monday, in which the US does not participate, Mikhail Ulyanov, Russia’s ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and leading Moscow’s team ream in the talks, said participants had “held business-like and result-oriented discussions.”

China’s IAEA ambassador Wang Qun had said earlier in the day, before formal talks began, that there was “a greater sense of urgency of the part of all parties.”

Ulyanov said the JCPOA signatories had “in particular…agreed to intensify the drafting process in order to achieve an agreement as soon as possible.” Restoration of the 2015 agreement would require an agreed plan to sequence steps taken by both Tehran and Washington.

While US officials have drawn attention to Iran’s expanding atomic program – particularly with enrichment far beyond the 3.67 purity allowed under the JCPOA – Tehran has emphasized both the removal of American sanctions and the need for assurances that Washington would not renege on a renewed JCPOA.

Focus for Tuesday

Ali Bagheri-Kani, Iran’s lead negotiator in Vienna, said after the JCPOA Commission meeting that he expected discussion on Tuesday to focus on Tehran’s proposals for verification of the lifting of sanctions, with expert groups looking in particular at US measures aimed at Iran’s banking sector that have restricted Iran’s ability since 2018 to sell oil and repatriate the proceeds.

A seventh round of the Vienna talks, the first since new Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi (Raeesi) took office in August, ended ten days ago after Iran presented written proposals, which some suggested undid understandings reached before talks were suspended in June for Iran’s presidential election.

Mora said he had decided to reconvene talks today, between Christmas and New Year, so as not to lose time. But he said that there would be another break for three days as of Friday "because the facilities will not be available” in the boutique hotel where the main meetings take place. The five-star 19th-century Palais Coburg was also the venue for the signing of the JCPOA in 2015.

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